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  • Writer's pictureJaveria Fatima Zaidi

Expressive Writing: How-To (A Step by Step Guide for complete beginners)

What is Expressive Writing?


Expressive Writing unfolds as a heartfelt narrative, steeped in emotions and feelings, unfettered by the formalities of structure, grammar, or punctuation. It shares a kinship with freewriting, a technique commonly harnessed to vanquish writer's block through unhindered brainstorming. Yet, the key distinction lies in their objectives. For Expressive Writing, the journey takes precedence over the destination – it's all about processing and understanding the writer's emotions, rather than fixating on the final product or outcome.


Expressive Writing, in essence, is a therapeutic writing process where an individual writes about personal experiences, emotions, thoughts, and feelings, often focusing on stressful or traumatic events. The goal of expressive writing is to explore one's emotional responses and gain psychological healing and understanding. It often requires the writer to delve into deeper emotional and personal themes.


It’s somewhat like a compass for highly sensitive women navigating towards their dreams. By processing emotions on paper, you're able to clear out mental clutter and tune into what truly matters to you. Those heartfelt scribbles? They help illuminate your path, guiding you towards setting goals that resonate with your inner truth. And the best part is, as you regularly write, you develop resilience and emotional clarity, fuelling your journey to achieve these meaningful milestones.






Benefits of Expressive Writing


Have you ever experienced the power of putting pen to paper and letting your thoughts flow freely? That's exactly what Expressive Writing is all about. It's a therapeutic practice that allows you to explore your emotions, reflect on your experiences, and gain a deeper understanding of yourself. And for highly sensitive women, it can be an absolute game-changer.


As a highly sensitive woman myself, I have found immense solace in the practice of Expressive Writing. There have been times when I've felt overwhelmed by my emotions, struggling to make sense of them all. But through the act of writing, I've been able to release those pent-up feelings and find clarity amidst the chaos.


Expressive Writing not only helps in processing emotions but also plays a crucial role in setting goals for personal growth. By putting our thoughts onto paper, we can identify patterns, recognize our strengths and weaknesses, and develop a clear vision for our future.

The benefits of expressive writing extend far beyond goal setting. Numerous studies have shown its positive impact on mental wellbeing and mental health. It has been found to reduce stress levels, improve mood, boost self-esteem, and even enhance immune function. ①


So if you're a highly sensitive woman seeking a transformative tool for self-discovery and personal growth, look no further than expressive writing. Grab that journal or open up that blank document on your computer screen – you never know how much it could change your life.





How To Do Expressive Writing


While there aren’t any hard and fast rules about this, I have come to realise certain best practices, which I will share below.


1. Set The Mood


First up, you have to be comfortable! When you're relaxed, it's easier to get honest with yourself. You'd be surprised how deep you can dive into your feelings when you feel snug and safe.


Second, nobody likes interruptions, right? By creating a peaceful nook for your writing, you shoo away those pesky distractions. It's just you and your thoughts then - a perfect combo for some deep, expressive writing.


Thirdly, ever noticed how certain actions make you feel ready for something? Like how wearing gym clothes gets you in the mood for a workout? Same thing here! Setting the mood becomes a cue for your mind that it's 'me-time' now.


Lastly, let's be real, we're more likely to stick to something if we enjoy it. Creating an environment you love can make your writing sessions something to look forward to.

So, setting the mood is like laying the groundwork for a great expressive writing session. It's not just about the ambience, it's about getting the best from the process.


The idea here is to engage as many of the senses as you can. Sit in a place that feels comfortable – on your bed, curled up on the sofa, under the dining table… wherever.

Snuggle up with your favourite pillow or wear your favourite blanket, or don’t, if that’s not your cup of tea. You might want to keep a comforting hot drink with you, or a little snack; a glass of water. Perhaps light a scented candle or spray your favourite perfume. Make it into a ritual that is enjoyable and sustainable for you and your unique lifestyle!


2. Grab Your Tools


Ideally, you want something that feels good in your hand. If you're scribbling away with a pen that's scratchy or uncomfortable to hold, it's going to be a drag. You'd want a pen that glides like a figure skater on ice!


Then, there's the magic of paper. You can feel its texture under your hand, see your words taking shape - it's kind of therapeutic. Or maybe you're a notebook fanatic like me. Just the sight of a beautiful journal makes you want to spill your heart out on those pages.


On the flip side, maybe you're more of a techie. Typing on your laptop, phone, or tablet can be just as good. You could even voice record your thoughts if that's your thing.


Remember, it's all about what works best for you. The whole point is to create a space where your thoughts and feelings can flow freely. So go ahead, pick the tools that spark joy for you. Trust me, it makes a difference!


What will you write with? A nice smooth ball pen, an old fashioned fountain pen, or your trusty pencil?


What will you write on? A notebook you had lying around, a leather journal, or your latest excuse to buy a pretty diary?


Perhaps you’ll forego all of this in favour of your laptop or phone or tablet. Or some other hi-tech electronic device I don’t know of. In any case, keep it handy, whatever it might be.


3. Pick a Prompt


Ah, my favourite part!


Here's the cool thing about expressive writing - there are no hard and fast rules on what to write about. It's like a buffet, you get to pick what you fancy!


Usually, I just start with whatever's been on my mind recently. You know, like that argument that's been bugging me, or that super awesome moment when I felt on top of the world. I just dive right into it, without worrying about where to start or end.


But hey, we all have those days when our minds are a blank slate or we're just stuck in a loop. It's like wanting to watch something on TV but not knowing what. For times like that, I turn to writing prompts.


They're like your personal idea generators. Just pick one and let it lead you into a web of thoughts and feelings. I've shared some great ones on my Instagram page, in case you need some inspiration.


So really, there's no one-size-fits-all topic for expressive writing. It's your canvas, and you get to decide what goes on it. Whether it's a thought, a feeling, or a memory, if it's in your mind, it's worth writing about!



4. Write Freely


Okay, let's get to the fun part now - the actual writing. Here's where you let go of all the rules and just roll with it. Yes, you heard that right - it's time to show your inner grammar police, the exit.


Start by setting a timer for about 20 minutes - not too long to feel like a chore, and not too short to feel rushed. And then, just let your pen do its thing, or fingers if you're typing. Don't stress about making it look like a piece of art or sound like a best-selling novel. It's not about writing perfectly; it's about writing freely.


Forget grammar, ditch punctuation, ignore spellings, even handwriting can take a backseat. Write like no one's ever going to read it because, well, no one is. It's just for you, your thoughts, your feelings.


Are you just writing random words? That's okay. Is your writing taking some unexpected turns? Great! Did you start with a thought about your day and somehow ended up doodling your dream vacation? No problem! It might seem chaotic, but sometimes, you've got to embrace the chaos to find clarity.


And remember, there's no limit to what you can express. Write about your dreams, your fears, your secrets, your hopes - anything and everything that needs to get out.


The goal here is to pour your heart out on paper, or screen, or whatever medium you've chosen. It's like having a heart-to-heart with your best friend, where you can be your most authentic self, no judgements, no restrictions. Just pure, uninhibited expression. So go ahead, set your thoughts free and let them take flight!


5. Reflect


So, you've poured your heart out and your timer has run its course. What next? Well, now comes the time for a bit of calm after the storm. It's like the cool down after a workout, you don't just stop abruptly, do you?


Give yourself around 10 minutes to just relax and let it all sink in. Feel your chest rise and fall as you breathe. Close your eyes, and let your mind take a little tour of your inner landscape. What's happening there? Any surprises? Or did things pretty much go as you expected? Don't rush to judge or analyse, just notice. Be the curious observer who's just there to witness, not interfere.


Look around your surroundings too. Is your cup of tea or coffee still there, now cold? Has the scent from your candle changed subtly? Has the light outside your window shifted? Take in these tiny details. It's like being present in the aftermath of a brainstorm.


Now, take a moment to think about your writing. What came up for you? Did old memories resurface? Did you stumble upon some hidden feelings? Or did you get a fresh perspective on something that's been bugging you? Sometimes, it's in the midst of this unfiltered writing that we find gems of insight.


You might be tempted to edit and polish what you wrote. Or you might feel like it's a complete mess, but remember, this isn't about creating a masterpiece. It's about you and your journey of self-discovery. But hey, if you feel like making changes, go for it!


And lastly, notice if you've found any clarity or answers. Did you manage to untangle that knotted thought? Or have you found the next steps you need to take? Remember, the goal isn't always to find solutions, but if you do, that's a sweet bonus!


So, relax, reflect, and revel in the catharsis of expressive writing!





Benefits of Working with an Expressive Writing Coach


It’s been quite a journey we've embarked on together, hasn't it? From setting the mood to diving deep into your thoughts and reflecting on them. Every journey can be enriched with a bit of guidance, and that's where I come in.


Imagine having someone who's got your back, someone who can offer you new tools, techniques, and personalised prompts based on your unique journey. Sounds good, right?

That's where having a personal life coach, like me, could really amplify your expressive writing experience. Think of it like having a personal trainer, but for your feelings and thoughts!


We'll work together, exploring your thoughts, emotions, and experiences. I'll be there to provide new ways to delve into your inner self, suggest prompts that resonate with your situation, and provide a supportive and non-judgmental space for your self-discovery.


Remember, it's all about you and your unique journey. And having a coach means having someone who's as committed to your self-expression and healing as you are. So, if you're curious about how personal coaching can transform your expressive writing journey, let's connect.


Just like your expressive writing sessions, this is an invitation - one to explore, grow, and heal together. Are you in?


Drop me an email on support@penandheal.com to jump on a quick call.


Find details of my packages here.


If you don’t see what you need, I am open to creating custom packages, too.





References:-

① https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/advances-in-psychiatric-treatment/article/emotional-and-physical-health-benefits-of-expressive-writing/ED2976A61F5DE56B46F07A1CE9EA9F9F

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